Tancredo drops Presidential bid, endorses Romney

He made his point. While Colorado’s Rep. Tom Tancredo never got much above the low single digits in the polls and was considered a one-issue candidate because his main campaign plank focused on the issue of illegal immigration, he still considers his mission successful.

In a letter to supporters, he wrote:

Dear Friends,

It is with my heart full of gratitude and a touch of sadness that I write today to tell you of my intention to end my campaign for the presidency.

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As a loyal friend and supporter it is important to me that you understand why I am doing this, even though you may disagree.

For the past ten years I have dedicated my public life to the critical issue of illegal immigration. I believed then – as I do now – that massive uncontrolled illegal immigration threatens our survival as a nation. I could not stand by and let open border politicians and corporate lobbyists sell our country out to the highest bidder.

Then earlier this year when I feared that the issue would not be championed by any of the top candidates I threw my hat in the ring. It was the only way I could be certain that the candidates would be forced to take a stand.

Thanks to your incredible support look what we have accomplished:

Just last week Newsweek declared that “Anti-immigrant zealot [that would be me] had already won. Now even Dems dance to his no mas salsa tune.” This month alone The Economist, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal and a score of other newspapers have written similar assessments, grudgingly crediting our campaign with forcing the issue of immigration to the center of the national stage and – more importantly – with forcing every presidential candidate to commit themselves to an immigration plan that calls for securing the borders, opposing amnesty and enforcing the law.

Of course, many of the candidates need to be pinned down on their understanding of the meaning of amnesty, but we have succeeded beyond my most optimistic expectations of a year ago. We even have Hillary jumping through hoops on the issue! So with so much success why drop out of the race now, you are probably asking. For one reason and one reason alone: I believe the cause demands I do so.

The presidential campaign has come down to less than a handful of viable candidates. Unfortunately several of them have abysmal records on immigration and can’t be trusted to do what is needed to preserve this country if they’re elected. My fear is that if I were to stay in this race my votes could be the factor in handing victory to a pro-amnesty politician. Friends, we have done too much, come too far and the stakes are too high to play that hand. And so I am ending my presidential campaign.

I know there are many more battles in our future and you can count on me to stay in this fight with you. We must continue to build the unquestioned momentum that is fueling our movement today. In the weeks ahead, I will write to you again to share with you my plans for the future, and for the immigration reform movement that is transforming American politics.

But for now, I just wish to again express to you my deepest thanks and appreciation for your partnership with me in this historic effort. I also want to wish you a very blessed and merry Christmas!

We have come so far together, and through our efforts we have made a stunning and, I believe, permanent impact on the debate over securing our borders and preserving our nation.

Not a day has gone by in this campaign that I have not thanked God for the dedication of so many Americans like you. I can promise you that as long as He gives me life and strength, I will work hard for our cause and to honor the trust you have placed in me.

With sincere best wishes,

Tom Tancredo

Actually, except for his stance on the Long War, Tom was one of my top choices and led the race for my endorsement until that fateful issue came up. What sort of surprises me is that he endorsed Mitt Romney, who I feel doesn’t necessarily line up with Tancredo on his pet issue, nor has that many other conservative bonafides. Romney’s views on illegal immigration are here – now compare them to this statement by Tancredo:

Illegal aliens threaten our economy and undermine our culture. While our brave soldiers risk their lives to protect us overseas, our political elites lack the courage to defend us at home. I am 100% opposed to amnesty. As President, I will secure our borders so illegal aliens do not come, and I will eliminate benefits and job prospects so they do not stay.

Or perhaps you may consider this blog post from over the summer. Maybe Romney has come around on the issue to Tom Tancredo’s satisfaction, but the website Hot Air speculates that Tom feels Romney has the best chance of winning over more pro-amnesty candidates like Mike Huckabee or Rudy Giuliani.

Since Tancredo is not going to run again for his Congressional seat, it looks to me like he’ll he one of those “experts” on immigration issues that you see pop up from time to time on the cable news networks. (Also, I can think of a Lincoln Day dinner where a nationally-known speaker would be welcomed.) But he placed his pet issue front and center in the GOP race, and for that America can thank him.

With Tancredo leaving the race, that makes three former candidates who have endorsed three different Oval Office hopefuls – Tancredo with Romney today, Tommy Thompson throwing his support behind Rudy Giuliani in October, and Sam Brownback backing John McCain after he exited the race last month. Brownback shared some of his perspective about his endorsement of McCain in the National Journal this week:

Q: What was the deciding factor for you to endorse Sen. John McCain?

Brownback: I looked and I thought about all the candidates a lot. I prayed about it, and for me it really came down to Mike Huckabee and John McCain. But I really felt that John was the one that could best compete and win ultimately in the fall of 2008. I think he’s the most qualified person running now, ready to be president. He’s ready to be commander in chief. He has foreign policy experience. He’s a budget hawk, has been for a long time. He has a 20-year pro-life voting record. And he can perform in swing states. He can win in Florida. He can win in Missouri. He can win in Ohio. And we’ve got to have somebody that can perform in those states. So that’s why it came down to John for me. (Emphasis in original.)

Now if Tom Tancredo could explain his newfound love for Mitt Romney and the issues I’d love to hear it. Meanwhile, Tom’s grassroots supporters would probably find a more palatable candidate in Duncan Hunter so we’ll see if Hunter gets any Iowa help from Tancredo’s exit.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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